Years ago as a young man in Hong Kong, I would often find myself with friends at a restaurant whose menu options were way out of my price range. My "faith based" missions income just couldn't compete with the expat salary packages many of my friends lived on. So as I sat there fumbling to make conversation, all I could really think was how much I couldn't afford to eat here, my own financial shortcomings, and tradeoffs in my mind that reasoned if I had a meal here today I would only eat noodles for the next 3.
Then suddenly a friend, perhaps sensing my dilemma, would say something like, "Order anything you like Steve, the meal's on me today."
Suddenly, everything changed.
One little phrase, and then I could enjoy my meal. I could now appreciate the fact that I was in a fine dining restaurant with exquisite interior and cuisine rather that a neon lit McDonalds with a Big Mac meal resting on a plastic tray. The focus was no longer on what I didn't have, but on what another person's grace had allowed me to enjoy.
I find many (if not most) Christians are in the same place spiritually. How many of us has the enemy convinced that they are not holy enough, good enough, or righteous enough for God to use. Jesus says, "I've consecrated you, and made you clean" and through our actions we say back to him, "Ah, no you didn't" We are crippled by our inability to afford the menu prices when Christ has already pulled the check to his side of the table.
God wants us to enjoy our position as His children. The Grace of God is more than just a "forgiveness of sins". It allows us to perceive reality differently. The focus is no longer on what I don't have have but on what Christ has! Paul says in the book of Romans:
but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
We don't act differently, and then get to be an heir. Because we are an heir...we act differently!
So, relax...enjoy the meal, the bill has already been paid!